‘But ministry changes tune to threats early in the year’
The backtracking of the ministry of education is now no longer in sync with the assertion it made early this year when they threatened principals that they will not be paying Free Primary Education (FPE) moneys to schools that did not provide Personal Identification Numbers (PINS) for pupils.
The declaration and intent of the ministry was made by Acting Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Training, Sibongile Mtshali who said in order to avoid audit queries, they had to pay against a PIN, not a name of a pupil. Mtshali said names could be similar and this would often result in mistakes when payments were made. The numbers declared were that as a country there were about 650 primary schools and the only region that was said to have everything in order was Hhohho. It was stated that there were about 301 schools in the Lubombo, Shiselweni and Manzini regions that needed to attend to pupils’ Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) before government releases the FPE grant. The reasons were that these children do not have birth certificates and need to register before a PIN is issued. Magagula, during the press conference, said the notification was directed to all stakeholders. He added that his ministry and that of home affairs were working around the clock to ensure that all pupils access Personal Identity Numbers (PIN) as per the requirements of government. “The two ministries constantly engage parents and guardians to work timely strategies to access PIN numbers,” said Magagula.
The ministry further acknowledged that it had come to their attention that it was schools with disadvantaged pupils that had not submitted their PINs.
Magagula highlighted that the pupils were subjected to lack of access to school books and pupils were not given the opportunity to learn as they are chased out of school.
Magagula said issues of monies for schools were being sorted out and the three regions already had access to their funds with the exception of a few in the Shiselweni region.
The minister said the treasury department was working around the clock for all schools to receive their funds when the schools open.